Berkeley Lake white waterlily naturalized
at Fox Hollow Golf Course
Diary of a Professional
by Joseph V. Tomocik
Associate Director and Water Gardens Curator
Denver Botanic Gardens, Colorado USA
Click images to enlarge
Golf Goes Green
The Masters Tournament at the Augusta National golf course
and the British Open at Turnberry caught my eye as they wonderfully
capture the excitement, magic and beauty of golf. The national
and global popularity of golf manifests its importance and universal
appeal. The object is to get the ball in the hole with the least
That is just the beginning! We are all familiar with champion
golf legends Tiger Woods, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold
superb golfers, also community leaders, humanitarians
and philanthropists. Easily overlooked is the riveting impressive
landscaping and precision horticulture synonymous with golf courses.
Nostalgic arching bridges, verdant bluegrass fairways, and silky
smooth greens catch our imagination and fancy. Stately pines,
majestic oaks and meandering creeks add to the palette.
and N. Joey Tomocik at
Fox Hollow Golf Course
Soft, undulating fairways are so inviting, uncovering progressively
more dramatic views. And lets not forget the perfectly
carved islands of pearly white sand, and mesmerizing water features
that often cradle the challenging and sometimes perplexing, superbly
groomed greens. Finally, there are the shimmering ponds dotted
with, you guessed it, fantasy-like waterlilies.
Audubon International shines
Impressively, Audubon International Founder Ronald G. Dodson
has ingeniously devised an accreditation path for golf courses
to rise to the forefront in conservation, stewardship, sustainability,
community pride, outreach and education.
Special guidelines and assistance are available for golf courses
seeking recognition as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.
Participating golf courses must submit plans for energy and water
conservation, waste management, wildlife and habitat management,
and outreach and education. Sanctuary members apply for recertification
every two years.
Fox Hollow and Homestead Golf Courses
of community pride
Two golf course gems, Fox Hollow and Homestead, nestle against
the foothills of the majestic Rocky Mountains in Lakewood, Colorado,
not far from Denver.
My introduction to Homestead Golf Course came about through
an invitation of Golf Course Maintenance Specialist Chuck Bellmyer
in June 2008. I inspected and evaluated Homestead as part of
its reaccreditation application to Audubon International. I was
given a detailed questionnaire that included encouragement to
give suggestions as to how the golf course could better meet
and demonstrate the criteria required for Audubon International
membership. Chuck Bellmyer kindly greeted me at the golf course
Horse trails are an example of
multi-use themes at Homestead
and Fox Hollow Gulf Courses.
I was immediately impressed; the mowers were so perfectly aligned.
Very noticeable was the close attention to safety and recycling.
As we proceeded, I witnessed the multi use concept. Well-designed
trails provided paths for horses, hikers and bicyclists. Signage
was abundant, clear and educated visitors about the destruction
of floods and need for dams. An accomplished birdwatcher was
taking copious notes recording the frequency and kinds of birds
visiting the course.
Buffer zone limits
run-off of fertilizer.
Watering was closely monitored thanks to a computerized irrigation
system tied to a modern weather station. Hand-weeders were at
work in the roughs. A thick growth of grasses separated the ponds
from the fertilized areas, minimizing the chance of fertilizer
leaching into the water. Too, I was delighted to see a low maintenance
garden and lively container garden near the clubhouse entrance.
Waterlilies add beauty, style and interest
Chuck was beaming as he led me to a pond of sparkling waterlilies.
There I met Joe McBurney, Golf Course Maintenance Specialist
of neighboring Fox Hollow Golf Course that exhibits the same
quality and commitment to excellence as Homestead Golf Course.
I think of the two as sister golf courses.
I first met Joe about ten years ago when he was considering
planting waterlilies at Fox Hollow. I directed him to the beautiful
prolific waterlilies from Berkeley Lake. Also, I shared my thoughts
on how to establish waterlilies at Fox Hollow.
Joes dedication was most impressive. He called me a
number of times sharing his success and too, his challenges.
He built wire cages to thwart ducks and muskrats, and he persisted.
He so impressed me; Joe would not be denied! A bundle of good
cheer and generosity, he kindly shared the Berkeley Lake waterlilies
with his neighbor Chuck Bellmyer at Homestead.
As my tour/evaluation concluded at exquisite Homestead, Joe would
not allow me to escape. He insisted I see his Berkeley Lake waterlilies
at neighboring Fox Hollow.
Joe Tomocik admiring N. Mayla
N. Joey Tomocik established at
Fox Hollow Golf Course
And the waterlilies blew my mind. One stand of waterlilies
now sporting about five hundred flowers in all, reached for about
40 yards (37 meters). And to even bigger shock and pleasant surprise,
Joe had naturalized the bright yellow N. Joey Tomocik
(Strawn) and fuchsia-colored N. Mayla (Strawn).
Featuring vibrant waterlilies cradling the immaculate greens
and equally impressive fairways, Joe has proudly proclaimed the
fourteenth and fifteenth holes as the signature holes at Fox
Golf courses are undersold in relation to their valuable contributions
to horticulture, conservation, sustainability, outreach and education.
Audubon International has emerged as a leader in assisting courses
to progress and excel in these important areas.
The ease of cultivation, beauty and magic of waterlilies are
universal and cannot be denied. All of the most notable golf
courses are beckoning and ready to be enhanced
teaming with sparkling, colorful mesmerizing waterlilies.
Back at DBG -
hard to kill!
With unusually warm weather in March, we added water to the
Gardens pools five weeks earlier than planned. Staff and
volunteers had removed the mulch of bagged leaves from the waterlilies
and then moved the waterlilies into place.
Hardy waterlilies are remarkably durable. The combination
of a winter low temperature of -19 F (-28 C) degrees and a less-protected
wintering area did take a small toll on the waterlilies. Losses
were about 5% in one pool and there were no losses in a second
more-protected pool. Many waterlilies showed little growth at
first glance. A bit of searching uncovered live tissue a bit
deeper in the pots. The hardy waterlilies are now back and flowering
A long cold dormancy benefits hardy waterlilies and is a major
factor for the wonderful displays in Colorado ponds year after
year. The snow came after the pools were filled in March and
did little if any harm to the waterlilies.
Cold weather and hail
Soon after the tropical waterlilies were planted in late May
(a little earlier than usual), we were treated to a serious hailstorm
and unseasonably cold temperatures. Several quality nurseries
came to the rescue sending us healthy replacement plants that
gave us a second chance for a really nice tropical waterlily
The improvements and growth of water gardening during the
last thirty years have been phenomenal. I continue to gain a
reverence for the Water Gardeners International members and supporters.
There is reliability there, very high quality and Truly Named
This year Im growing several healthy Victoria
'Longwood Hybrid' (Nutt) waterlilies from seed. In addition,
I have healthy, heavily rooted plants from two WGI Truly Named
member nurseries. Victorias are a major attraction in
The greenhouses are empty and will be bulldozed within weeks.
A contagious excitement continues to grow as we make plans for
our new greenhouses and display areas. Moreover, youll
discover additional water features and displays.
A three-tiered parking lot will open soon and remarkably,
our displays are more inspiring than ever. It is truly a new
era in the making and I could not be more impressed, the progress
is mind-boggling. The Welcoming Garden opened in late July and
includes a new water feature.
Denver Botanic Gardens continues to be challenged to appeal
to a wider audience. Concerts, weddings, increased educational
opportunities and a deeper commitment to conservation and sustainability
prevail as we strive to lead and serve the community in new ways.
Increased attendance is a testament to the Gardens growth
The first waterlily to flower this year is one of the eight
Rocky Mountain Legacy (RMLC) waterlilies, Nymphaea Attorney
Elrod (Tomocik). On most days last summer this tiny rose-colored
gem sported eighteen flowers or more.
< N. 'Attorney
As good as gold is the classical magenta bowl-shaped beauty
N. James Brydon (Dreer Nurseries). It is now
aglow in the Romantic Gardens Rocky Mountain Legacy Pool.
Of special interest this summer are the recent winners of
the International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society waterlily
trials competition. Water gardens curator extraordinaire
Tamara Kilbane of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens has extended herself
in superbly managing the trials and in mailing these special
plants to Denver Botanic Gardens.
Berkeley Lake Waterlilies
Large stands of sparkling pink and white waterlilies evidently
planted in the 1940s have naturalized in Berkeley Park, Denver,
Colorado. Each summer these special gems reappear providing a
special treat for joggers, hikers and bicyclists.
Following a tip from Colorado Water Garden Society leader
and Gardens volunteer Damon Ginnow, plants were brought
to Denver Botanic Gardens in 1996 and evaluated. The waterlilies
are exceptional and superb for naturalizing. They are the first
waterlilies to establish in our pools each spring. As part of
our 2001 annual Fete De Fleur, Gardens supporter Carol
Purdy named the pink selection Nymphaea Denvers
Delight. It is one of eight Rocky Mountain Legacy Collection
(RMLC) waterlilies featured in our pools each year and is truly
superb. The Berkeley Lake waterlilies now thrive at nearby Hudson
Gardens, says astute volunteer water gardens manager Bob Hoffman.
See you at poolside (and at the golf course),